Urine the Money

One athlete's waste is this company's treasure.
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This story appears in the June 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

At first glance, it seems like a glamorous business: testing athletes for drugs. But when you look more closely at The National Center for Drug Free Sport Inc., a Kansas City, Missouri, enterprise that Frank Uryasz created in 1999, you start to realize that there's at least one downside: He handles urine all day.

"We try to keep a very professional environment in our collection area," says Uryasz, 43, "but we're working with young people [mostly in high school and college]; and funny things happen, so you have to keep a level of humor in this business." After all, according to Uryasz, whose company employs 10 and brought in $3.7 million in 2003, "all kinds of things can go wrong. Shy bladders are often a problem, and athletes [sometimes] drop their specimens. We've all lost a few pairs of shoes."

It's also a business that may make your kids wish you had a more mainstream career. One evening during dinner, Uryasz's 17-year-old daughter asked, "Dad, what should I tell people you do?" He replied, "You could say we help kids stay off drugs. But if you really want them to know, just tell them we collect urine," Uryasz says. "She thought it was gross."

It was then that the Uryasz family motto was developed: We love urine. Meanwhile, his employees have submitted their own ideas for company slogans, but Uryasz has so far rejected gems like "Our business is 'number one'" and "Your urine is in good hands." "It just goes on and on," says Uryasz.

As will the business. "Athletes have been cheating for centuries," says Uryasz, "and I'm afraid they always will."

Edition: July 2017

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